I had it pretty easy compared to Chuck(not THE Chuck) who had skied from Banff to Goat Creek trailhead and was turning around and going back. On this cold day I was satisfied with 18.9K.
There was no updated information on the Banff trail report about tracksetting when I left home today, but I could see when I arrived at the Banff park boundary that it had been groomed and trackset. With how firm the tracks were, I thought it must have been done yesterday but the trail report indicates it was done today.
I never did get a good reading on how much snow fell on Goat Creek, but the rocks have almost disappeared. There is only one in the tracks which I had to take evasive action to miss, so it’s pretty clear sailing for most of the way. There are, however, at least a dozen on the final 100 metres down to the Goat Creek bridge( I walked down). The final descent to the Spray River bridge at 9K also has a few but they are easy to avoid.
The initial 900 metres in K-Country which is never trackset, is well packed and the few rocks are easy to avoid except for the first downhill from the trailhead which I walked.
After crossing the Spray River at 9K and getting onto Spray River West, the conditions are lovely. The only place where the trail is compromised are under a few tree canopies on the final 5K into Banff.
Extremely cold snow does not set up very well when tracksetting so the tracks are shallow and the snow is a bit chunky but I’m not complaining; it was good enough to have an enjoyable ski on this wonderful trail.
Despite having signs up the yin-yang showing multi-users where to go, some people still walked and snowshoed in the skating lane on Spray West. To make matters worse, they did it when the snow was still soft and left significant marks. They’re supposed to go on Spray River East which is groomed especially for them.
I didn’t encounter any fat bikers, snowshoers, or hikers on Goat Creek taking advantage of the new multi-use lane.
The temperature in mid-afternoon at the Goat Creek trailhead was -18°C with no wind and a mostly sunny sky. At the Banff end at 4:30 pm it was -20. Although skiing late in the day, I still encountered six other skiers.
Thanks to all the courageous, undaunted, hardy people who skied today and left trip reports. I’m happy to see that Calgarians have enough snow to ski in their back yards or can make the short drive to West Bragg.
More photos from Goat Creek and Spray River…
We spent the 30 to the 1st at the SP6 campground and conditions were getting to be as you described when we were on our way out. We also saw relatively few fatbikers, though we were riding ours. We saw some walkers using the ski track as their preferred path, since it was the easiest. Unfortunately, though I informed them of the error of their ways, they had already walked in 6km from Banff at that point.
I skied Goat Creek to the Spray River bridge on Dec 30 and conditions were ok. Glad to hear that the tracksetting has been refreshed as it was a bit worn out in places on Friday. Just as I was heading out I met a fellow carrying a broken ski – he’d hit one of the rocks at the bottom by the Goat Creek bridge and it had snapped his ski. I took extra care going down that hill! Also, if anyone was there over the weekend and found a blue patterned toque and single mitt in the Goat Creek parking lot please let me know – I might have lost my favourite toque as I was packing up the car at the end of the day.